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October-December 2013 Issue (Vol. 15 No. 4)

Leila Denisse E. Padilla

Soybean is heralded all over the world as a wonder crop because of its resilience, versatility, and its nutritive value. Locally known as utaw, soybean has been widely utilized for animal feed but it has become a reliable crop with a great potential in helping alleviate hunger and poverty in the Philippines.

To optimize soybean’s potentials, the Department of Agriculture (DA) through its Soybean Program has been promoting the production and processing of soybean nationwide through enabling of farmers with sufficient resources and techniques to create a sustainable and competitive soybean industry.

As the lead agency of DA for research and development (R&D), the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), together with concerned agencies and institutions, led the crafting of the roadmap titled, “Building Sustainable Soybean Industry in the Philippines (2010-2014)”.

With the roadmap’s vision of “productive farming communities that unite as providers of healthy and nutritious food to Filipinos and the neighboring Asian countries through building strong community-based sustainable production units and establishment of a viable soybean processing industry through public-private partnership initiatives,” BAR supports the implementation of soybean R&D initiatives of regional partners nationwide.

Organic Soybean Production

With the support of BAR, the Regional Field Unit 3, the Central Luzon Integrated Agricultural Research Center (CLIARC) implemented the project titled, “Development of Commercial Organic Soybeans in Central Luzon”.

Implemented in 2011, the project aims to: 1) make available organic seeds of recommended varieties, 2) showcase organic soybean production to target growing communities, and 3) conduct training on soybean production and processing.

“With the strong participation of private cooperatives, particularly the Golden Bean and Grain Producer’s Cooperative, we are targeting 4,300 hectares by 2014-2015 in Region 3. This goal can be attained by proper training both for soybean production and its processing by stakeholders, developing the seed system, conducting information campaign on the nutritional values of soya, organizing farmers into associations, and encouraging strong private sector participation,” explained Dr. Arthur Dayrit, project leader.

Promoting a healthier community with soybean

Since Central Luzon is considered the rice hub of the Philippines, encouraging farmers to venture also into soybean was a challenge. It was resolved through a series of information campaigns conducted to promote the significant benefits of soybean production.

“Its seeds contain approximately 40-45 percent protein, 20-25 percent edible vegetable oil, and a significant amount of vitamins A and E, as well as minerals and micronutrients making it a valuable component in many food items both for humans and for animals,” stated the proponents in the project’s annual report.

Soybean is also beneficial to the environment since it is a nitrogen-fixing plant that enables it to help sustain soil vigor and eliminate pests. As a short-term and sun-loving legume, it can thrive amidst the impacts of climate change without jeopardizing its nutrient quality.

Highlights of success

For this year, the 2000-square meter on-station seed production site has yielded 150 kilograms of organic soybean seeds. Each project site has established on-farm techno-demo cum production with an area similar to that of the on-station site. To encourage farmers to plant soybeans, 900 kilograms of seeds were initially distributed to farmers and associations.

To promote the benefits of soybean production, technical briefings were organized in Cabanatuan, Pampanga, Zambales, Balanga, Malolos, and Tarlac. Capacity building trainings on soybean production and processing were also conducted to educate agricultural extension workers and farmer-partners.

In September 2013, a farmer’s field day was held in Cabanatuan City which was attended by farmer-partners and members of the Golden Bean and Grain Producer’s Cooperative. A month after, a consultative meeting for the soybean roadmap for CY 2014-2016 was organized in Nueva Ecija, which laid the commercial production targets for soybean production.

Future plans

Based on the 2014-2016 soybean roadmap, 17,300 hectares will be planted in Central Luzon by 2016. The regional breakdown of the hectarage of commercial production targeted by year is shown in the table below:

Commercial Production Target
Cluster - Province
Year Total
2013-2014 2014-2015 2015-2016
Nueva Ecija 200 ha 1,300 ha 3,500 ha 5,000 ha
Aurora & Bulacan 100 ha 1,000 ha 3,000 ha 4,100 ha
Bataan & Pampanga 100 ha 1,000 ha 3,000 ha 4,100 ha
Tarlac & Zambales 100 ha 1,000 ha 3,000 ha 4,100 ha
Total Area 500 ha 4,300 ha 12,500 ha 17,100 ha

“To encourage farmers to venture in soya production, it is important to first inculcate in their minds the nutritive value of the said crop, another is [to let them know] that there are government support services that can be tapped like initial seed sourcing and technical and marketing assistance,” said Dr. Dayrit when asked on how to motivate other farmers to plant soybean. ###